With the starters set to play "at least a half" tonight is the first night that we're actually going to be paying special attention to how the team itself looks. The previous 2 preseason games have been more about looking at individual performances considering the starters got so little time and the schemes were so vanilla. While Andy certainly won't be opening up the playbook all that much, we should get a better look at how the team is starting to gel as a unit. Here are some things to watch,
Can the Eagles establish the run? - This has kind of been a quiet problem so far this preseason. Other than a few decent runs by Westbrook in the last game the Eagles have really been unable to establish any run game. While I don't want to see Westbrook carrying the ball 15 times in the first half, I would like to see a concerted effort to pick up where we left off last year. The Steelers are always a tough test as a team to run against.
Can we stop the run? - The Eagles did a good job stuffing the run against Carolina and will be further tested against a run first team like the Steelers. Certainly many eyes are going to be on Omar Gaither as he makes his first start at MLB, in fact as crazy as it seems there's probably more pressure on him to make plays tonight than any other Eagle. Obviously it's only preseason, but I can see Eagles fans freaking out if he misses a tackle or something...
Dirk v Sav Round 3 - I'm not sure whether it's a good or bad thing when the best camp battle on your team is for the punter spot... but either way this has been a great battle and it's drawing to it's conclusion. Dirk has returned to his solid & consistent, yet unspectacular form while Rocca has dazzled and not really shown any of the inconsistency that some of us were wary about. Both guys seem to have done a decent enough job holding for Akers... at this point it could very well be down to who makes the first mistake.
Speaking of Akers... - He really looked in midseason form banging in 2 50+ yarders last week, but the FG situation still bothers me. Specifically the snapping of Dorenbos, which has been poor so far and I'm somewhat surprised no one has been brought in to challenge for that job. Maybe the Eagles are just trying to let the unit gel and not change personnel, but the fact s that it's been 2 straight games where there's been at least one bad snap. That's just not acceptable, and if we see it again tonight Andy is going to have to do something about it.